Although the performance of lithium ion-batteries continues to improve, their energy density and cycle life remain insufficient for applications in consumer electronics, transport and large-scale renewable energy storage 1-5. Silicon has a large charge storage capacity and this makes it an attractive anode material, but pulverization during cycling and an unstable solid-electrolyte interphase has limited the cycle life of silicon anodes to hundreds of cycles 6-11. Here, we show that anodes consisting of an active silicon nanotube surrounded by an ion-permeable silicon oxide shell can cycle over 6,000 times in half cells while retaining more than 85% of their initial capacity. The outer surface of the silicon nanotube is prevented from expansion by the oxide shell, and the expanding inner surface is not exposed to the electrolyte, resulting in a stable solid-electrolyte interphase. Batteries containing these double-walled silicon nanotube anodes exhibit charge capacities approximately eight times larger than conventional carbon anodes and charging rates of up to 20C (a rate of 1C corresponds to complete charge or discharge in one hour). © 2012 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.